Elysha Rei is a Japanese-Australian artist exploring cultural identity, site-specific history, and environmental elements through paper cutting and public art. Her works are created within a Japanese aesthetic, where she draws upon archival records, personal histories, and site-specific research into flora and fauna to create works that connect to sites and stories in the reflection of her cultural heritage.
She has a Bachelor of Visual Arts from USQ (2008), a Masters in Business Administration (2018). She will be commencing a PhD in 2022 at the Queensland University of Technology, exploring how cultural heritage can be expressed through creative arts practice. Rei has created and exhibited work curated exhibitions, and managed cultural spaces across Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Netherlands, Thailand, and the US. She founded the international artist residency program, Sam Rit Residency, in rural Thailand in 2014 and co-founded the Artist-Run-Initiative Made Creative Space Toowoomba from 2011-2013. She has been an invited artist-in-residence for the Museum of Brisbane, Artspace Mackay, and Barcaldine Arts Council. In 2018 was the recipient of an Asialink Arts Creative Exchange in Japan.
In 2022, Elysha will be completing an artist residency at UAP Brisbane, funded by an Individuals Fund from Arts Queensland. She has public artworks in Brisbane, Toowoomba, and Warwick, and artworks in the collection of the Westin Brisbane, Brisbane City Council, Warwick Regional Council, Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery, QIC, and the University of Southern Queensland.
I am a Japanese-Australian artist that explores narratives of cultural identity, site-specific history and environmental elements through paper cutting and public art. Created within a Japanese aesthetic, my practice draws upon archival records, personal histories and site-specific research into flora and fauna to create works that connect to sites and stories in the reflection of my cultural heritage. After growing up in New Zealand and Thailand and adjusting to living in different communities and cultures over the years, my sense of identity as a Japanese Australian has become an anchor point whilst I navigated so much change. It was during an Asialink Arts Creative Exchange in Japan in 2018, that this connection to my heritage was cemented. Travelling from Kyushu to Tokyo, I followed in the footsteps of my ancestors – a samurai and a tea master – and my maternal Japanese grandmother and Australian grandfather’s love story post-WWII. I found my purpose as an artist is to preserve this part of my family's heritage through the philosophies and visual language found in Japanese art and design. As the grandchild of a Japanese war bride in Australia, the crossroads between East and West are integral to my work, manifesting visually and metaphorically.
I am committed to growing and challenging myself as an artist, exploring new ways of working that connect back to my family’s heritage and to communities where I'm creating site-specific work. I enjoy paper-cutting as a medium that requires design thinking and craftsmanship in order to achieve a work that is both visually captivating and structurally refined. This design approach has allowed me to expand beyond paper-cutting to large scale installations, large-scale murals, sculptural pieces, wearable art, sandblasted pavements designs, and projection work.
Elysha Rei, 2022 Year of the (Water) Tiger, Featuring Corona Virus, 2022
Sumi ink on hand-cut paper (unframed)
27.9 cm x 21 cm
This lunar new year paper cut work features a coronavirus in the background after witnessing the impact of this virus at the start of the year. Water is lapping at its paws as this is the year of the water tiger.
Elysha Rei, White Box Beta, 2021
Hand-cut paper in box frame
26.8 cm x 26.8 cm
This fish connects to my time living in Thailand, where the Beta Fish (also known as Siamese Fighting Fish) is from. I’ve kept these fish as pets on several occasions in my life in Australia and Thailand. I’ve always adored their iridescent colours, but this work particularly focuses on the elegant forms of the fish.
Elysha Rei, Fish and Ships II, 2021
Hand-cut washi paper
17 cm x 12 cm
This work represents my parent’s ancestries including my paternal First Fleeter heritage featuring the Scarborough Ship, and my maternal Japanese heritage symbolised by a Japanese koi and water. Together they connect my eastern and western heritage and influences in my life and art practice.
For more information about the collection please contact Martha Liew